Previous studies have shown that recessive mutations at the Arabidopsis ABSCISIC ACID-INSENSITIVE3 (ABI3), FUSCA3 (FUS3), and LEAFY COTYLEDON1 (LEC1) loci lead to various abnormalities during mid-embryogenesis and late embryogenesis. In this study, we investigated whether these loci act in independent regulatory pathways or interact in controlling certain facets of seed development. Several developmental responses were quantified in abi3, fus3, and lec1 single mutants as well as in double mutants combining either the weak abi3-1 or the severe abi3-4 mutations with either fus3 or lec1 mutations. Our data indicate that ABI3 interacts genetically with both FUS3 and LEC1 in controlling each of the elementary processes analyzed, namely, accumulation of chlorophyll and anthocyanins, sensitivity to abscisic acid, and expression of individual members of the 12S storage protein gene family. In addition, both FUS3 and LEC1 regulate positively the abundance of the ABI3 protein in the seed. These results suggest that in contrast to previous models, the ABI3, FUS3, and LEC1 genes act synergistically to control multiple elementary processes during seed development.
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